Facebook Now Favours Elected Bigots Over Non-Elected Bigots
To show that Facebook’s standards are anything but standard, the social media giant said their hate speech policies do not apply to political figures.
On the one hand, this makes perfect sense. No one wants to hear Larry and Lisa’s bickering about migrants being evil or how Hilary Clinton leads a ring of paedophiles. Nor are Alex Jones’ theories on frogs and homosexuality conducive to Facebook’s ‘safe space’.
But, now that politicians come up with similar kind words, banning them would quite quickly make Facebook redundant.
Not only that, it would mean Mark Zuckerberg spends a lot more time in congress and the European Parliament having to defend himself or explain what ‘an internet’ is to Ted Cruz. That is good for no one.
Having said that, this could set a dangerous precedent.
Boris and Nigel can go around shouting how trillions of migrants will flood the streets tomorrow or how Brussels invented terrorism and be a-ok. However, a comment telling them to stick it, could be removed on the grounds of hate speech. After all, how else will Nigel sleep at night?
There are, of course, plenty of countries that have experimented with restricting speech for everyone but their leaders. Not a lot of criticism tends to come forward after that’s been decided.
In fact, a spicy article could leave you in several pieces at an embassy.
Aside from hate speech, Facebook’s communication’s advisor (Nick Clegg) also said fact-checking doesn’t apply to politically influential figures either. Presumably, because even Facebook doesn’t have the server/manpower to address that mammoth task, and because Nick knows how annoying it can be to be held accountable.
But, would Facebook be better if it applied hate speech policies to all?
On the one hand, you’d never be able even to mention atrocities, government policies or religious views that are hateful if all policies were to be applied in a uniform manner. Instead, Facebook would turn into a giant primary school show and tell with Zuckerberg as the teacher.
The company argues it won’t be doing any fact-checking because it does not want to referee in political debates. Also, finding it important that things that are newsworthy-i.e. political events or campaigns should be available on the platform.
However, these are seen as country-specific.
So, without too much imagination, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman would be more than welcome to vent about what stone is best to hurl at homosexuals, but a counter-campaign claiming he is a violent tyrant (to be kind) could be banned as it violates Saudi Arabia’s own speech policies and could be seen as hate speech.
The only exception to all of this is advertising, presumably because Facebook made enough money off that in the last few elections that took place.
So, unless Larry and Lisa are bothered enough to stand for election, they will need to keep their bile to themselves. But fear not, there should be plenty to go around.
Even though Facebook maintains its aims to ensure an environment that is welcoming to all users, interference, hate speech and spreading lies is really only OK if your name is on a door (or a plaque or a paycheque).